COVID vaccinations; water bill and rental assistance

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By Sen. David Blount
Mississippi District 29

Along with Representatives Ronnie Crudup, Jr., Zakiya Summers, and De’Keither Stamps, I am sponsoring an event in Byram to help residents with Jackson water bills and back rent.

The Mississippi Home Corporation will assist citizens with paying their utility bills, rent, or mortgage payments. The City of Jackson will help customers with delinquent and disputed water bills. The Mississippi Department of Health will provide COVID vaccinations – especially important with cases of the Delta variant rising rapidly among unvaccinated people.

Our event will be held at Crossroads of Life Church in Byram on Saturday, August 7th, from 9:00 to 2:00. The church address is 6775 S. Siwell Road.

If you are renting a house or apartment, the Home Corp. may be able to help you pay up to 15 months of back rent. You are asked to bring ID; copy of lease; proof of income; proof of participation in SNAP, MEDICAID, or TANF; a paystub or tax return; and most recent utility bills, if at all possible. More information on this program is available at www.ms-rampera.com.

The Jackson water billing problems have been a serious problem for years. The system has been severely compromised by failure to accurately bill customers and aging pipes and infrastructure. I worked this year to pass legislation to clean up the books and help people satisfy disputed and delinquent accounts. The City and the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff recently announced these programs to help customers:

1. Low-Income Assistance Plan (LIAP) – Available for any water/sewage arrearage for 24 months
• Must show proof of participation in the MS Home Corp. rental assistance program
• Must pay current bill for three months
• Must apply for any federal or state utility aid programs
• Must pay current bill plus $10 for 24 months

2. Courtesy Payment Arrangement Plan (CoPAP) for those customers who do not qualify as low-income.
• Available for customers with a 1-inch meters or less (residential and small businesses)
• Must pay the current bill for three months
• Must apply for federal and state utility aid programs
• Must pay 40% over 24 months

3. Additionally, there will be a Special Circumstances Panel for those experiencing extreme financial hardship. Special circumstances may include, but are not limited to:
• Instances of error
• Equipment failure
• Debt deemed uncollectable
• Unforeseen damage due to weather

4. Stranded Bills: A flat rate is being established for those who know they have a balance, but have not recently received a bill. The City can put customers on a flat rate so that payments may begin in order to enter the program.

I hope these programs will help the many customers who have experienced problems with their water bills over the past few years. Fortunately, there are new federal programs to pay these bills. I hope this is the first step to fixing Jackson’s billing problems.

I want to thank Pastor Trey Hammond at Crossroads of Life Church for opening the church to help the Byram/Terry community.

Thank you again for the opportunity to work for Hinds County in the State Senate. Please let me know if I can help you or your family. You can contact me by email (dblount@senate.ms.gov) or by calling my office at the Capitol (601-359-3221). I am also on Facebook and Twitter (@sendavidblount).